Where Do Redwood Trees Come From?

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Community Forest, Arcata, California, U.S.A.

It takes a LOT of water pumping up through those 200- 300+ foot trunks to feed the growing tips of redwoods.

They are shallow-rooted. And they need water during the northern hemisphere’s summer. They get that with the help of fog. Fog collects on leaves and branches, then runs down the stem, or is absorbed through the leaves, or drips on dry surface soils. Significant amounts of water are collected from fog. The summer moist marine air layer limits the range of the coast redwood, Sequoia sempervirens. It only grows near the coast for this reason.

But today, it is just direct, heavy, drenching rain. When I went for my morning walk I used a raincoat and an umbrella. Rain was running down the roads and soaking the soil. It was pouring. Then when I got back home, it decided to turn up the volume and pounded on the roof. It continues to rain and the sky is dark. This is the water that percolates deep into soils that feeds streams later in spring and summer.

Where do redwoods come from? Well, almost every molecule in those huge trees comes from the soil. Decomposing organic matter, atmospheric gasses entering the soil surface, and weathering soil minerals provide the nutrients. The water carries the nutrients to their roots. It is a rich day in the redwood forest. A day to count blessings. A day to keep the fire stoked.

But it is also a day to enjoy life. For me, that includes the daily run. If you live in the redwoods and you are a runner, you run in the rain. After all, water does not hurt you.

Spring will arrive soon. But today is a day to savor the sound of the rain on the roof. “…Sit back and groove on a rainy day,” was how Jimi Hendrix said it.  Photo:  1/500 s at f/4

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